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May 3, 2024 8:51 pm

Slumping Orlando City look for positive result vs. FC Cincinnati

Orlando City

Two teams on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference table meet Saturday evening as Orlando City hosts FC Cincinnati.

Orlando (2-4-3, 9 points), currently 13th in the East standings, limped to a 0-3-1 start to the campaign, then alternated wins and draws in its next four outings before a last-minute 2-1 loss to Toronto FC on April 27.

Though Orlando shook off a slow start last year to finish second in the conference, this year’s group understands that wins are vital now that it’s past the quarter-pole of the league schedule.

“We were struggling in the beginning of last year, too, and that’s the most annoying thing that it’s the same this year,” Orlando center back and captain Robin Jansson said. “But at the end of the day, we cannot put too much focus on that because we are, in the group, working together and trying to (add more) points (to) our account.”

Meanwhile, second-place Cincinnati (5-2-3, 18 points) recovered from back-to-back losses to start April by winning its next two by identical 2-1 scorelines, first at Atlanta United on April 20 and, a week later, at home against the Colorado Rapids.

But despite the contributions of reigning league MVP Luciano Acosta (four goals, five assists), it has totaled only 12 goals this season, well off the pace of 57 it scored a year ago and part of the reason it acquired striker Kevin Kelsy on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.

Kelsy — who will be available for selection for the first time on Saturday — will wear No. 19, the same as former star striker Brandon Vazquez. That said, head coach Pat Noonan made it clear that the two players weren’t carbon copies.

“Is he capable of, on both sides of the ball, playing in a way that we saw with Brandon? Sure. But our focus will be on getting Kevin up to speed on how we want him to play on our front line,” Noonan said.

The move also was made in part due to the loss of striker Aaron Boupendza (broken jaw), who was hurt away from the field.

This is the 10th all-time meeting between the two teams, with Orlando holding a 4-2-3 edge in the series.

–Field Level Media

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